Marks and Spencers Wine

What am I going on about you are probably wondering? Well, isn’t it usual that people always think the grass is greener? Well, hopefully after reading this, you might start to change your mind!

So much has changed, incredibly so, in the Wine World over the last ten to fifteen years. The New World (Australia, California, New Zealand etc), has changed our perception of wine and helped us more than you could ever realise, from my opinion, when it comes to educating us all and helping us to understand what we are drinking.

They have revolutionised labelling to benefit the consumer so we can actually start somewhere and know what grape variety we are drinking! Not only this, but behind the scenes they have shown spirit, adventurous blending and development in wine making techniques, modernised the industry and more importantly altered the mind set and attitude of growers and producers all over the World! They have provided us with lessons that are to be saluted- we thank you cousins.

But now, due to these changes and to the sharing of knowledge, especially through flying winemakers (winemakers who literally fly around the world assisting, adapting and sharing knowledge, and in turn taking traditional techniques and invaluable knowledge back to their own countries) the Old World countries have had the shake-up that they needed!

I also have a feeling that the EU has helped somewhat with funding (!) but now with these massive investments in the European wine sector, improvements in cellar management and individual authorities having raised their quality standards beyond their own dreams so now quality supersedes quantity in most cases.

These transformations are added to this all important change of attitude of the growers influenced by their New World cousins. Because of these reasons the Old World is back…and it’s HOT and better than ever before!!

Competition is what it’s all about in life- the more there is, the harder we strive and when it comes to wine this can only benefit the consumer! No one is sitting on their laurels anymore and the young and old generations of the Old World are now working together to bring us incredible quality wines at unbeatable costs, but still retaining their traditional roots in most cases.

Yes, you still have your magnificent gems of the Grand and Premier Crus of France that still fail to impress, but when you look at the £5-£10 wine market, this is where you can see the biggest impact all over Europe.

Wine Angel is all about grape varieties- helping you to focus on these, learn about them and find your favourites, to give you the knowledge and confidence to take this forward and explore the world of wines with these in hand. And funnily enough, this is what the new Old World revolution is now all about!? It’s become all about Regional Varieties. Promoting their native ‘brands’ and producing wines with that all important sense of place- as the French call it, ‘terroir’.

Vines that are established and have been in these countries for years are now being awoken and being asked to do what they have never been asked before. Their magic has been hidden. From these vines, where once mediocre wines were made, we are seeing wine being produced of superb quality, depth and price. They had the capability all the time but now they have the right teachers to fulfil their potential!

We are now so much more confident with our knowledge and taste buds that we should be welcoming this shift in attitude with open arms- bring it on and let’s taste these incredible varieties. Yes, we still love the International grape varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, for example, but I will try and show you some of these alternatives and I think you and your wallet will be smiling!

Take the Douro regional wines of Portugal, Priorat in Spain and the huge variety coming out of Italy now. They have style, class, and depth of truly precious and beautiful wine that previously was never produced from these varietals and places. The winemakers have really been at work here. It proves my point when you think that New Zealand produces the same amount of wine as Cyprus??! Who has tasted wine from Cyprus-be honest?

I adore New Zealand wines but I think a lot of us are sticking to our comfort zone. There is nothing wrong with that, you know what you like and I agree some of them are utterly divine, but I just want to show you HOW MUCH is out there to discover……so maybe we should think twice when we order that bottle of wine. Go on, be a devil, try something different!

Especially with the credit crunch, and alongside our pure ‘thirst’ for knowledge of which wines we are drinking, where they are from and our eye for a bargain, we are practically stamping our feet for good wine at a reasonable price. A lot of New World wines, especially those of credible quality, are rising in cost and we are getting bored of the same choices.

So the answer now- look a little closer to home and I assure you that if you pick up a bottle from an Old World country which you may previously have been put off from or just felt uneasy to conquer, you will be pleasantly surprised.

Retry the classics first- Italian Chianti and Barolo, French Vin de Pays, Cru Bourgeois (Bordeaux) and Beaujolais for reds. For whites, hit the Loire Valley and Alsace regions. Portuguese Douro Valley reds and Spanish Tempranillo from Rioja, Ribera del Duero, Navarra and Priorat. Try other countries like Greece, Austria, Germany… I could go on and on there are so many to mention! But once you have taken this first step you can then branch out and explore the other regional grape varieties from each country as there are many, many more and many hidden treasures waiting for you! I’ll post as many wine tastes I can of these to show you what’s available and what’s on trend.

Be brave and you will chuckle to yourselves to find out that you didn’t need that long haul plane ticket to refreshment after all- it’s now all on your doorstep! And more excitingly, only a stone’s throw to visit in person!

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